She had a philanthropy career, then her husband became US Ambassador to Spain
The day the White House called to invite Susan Lewis Solomont’s husband, Alan Solomont, to serve as the President Obama’s Ambassador to Spain marked the beginning of an exhilarating yet challenging journey.
Deeply engaged in her career as a philanthropic advisor and her role on the boards of many Boston-area civic organizations, Susan could hardly imagine putting her life and commitments on hold. Yet, the prospect of moving to Spain and experiencing life in Europe—as a representative of the United States, no less—was alluring.
In her new book, Lost and Found in Spain: Tales of an Ambassador’s Wife (Disruption Books, March 26, 2019), Susan brings this journey to life, complete with its many glorious highs and wistful lows. Equal parts memoir and travelogue, Lost and Found in Spain weaves together a transportive narrative about the author’s adventures experiencing Spain as few others ever have and a candid reflection on life as a diplomatic spouse.
From culinary adventures at the tables of world renowned chefs and at restaurants so exclusive that to this day, Susan is “sworn to secrecy” as to how she secured a reservation, to intimate gatherings with Spanish royalty, global business leaders, foreign dignitaries and superstars like Antonio Banderas and Rafael Nadal, Lost and Found in Spain gives a glimpse of the glamorous side of diplomatic life. It takes readers along on breathtaking forays through rural and coastal Spain, recounting the country’s rich history along the way.
Yet for all its glamour and excitement, Lost and Found in Spain remains grounded in Susan’s humble perspective as a representative of the United States, working hard around the clock to help advance the Embassy’s complex, demanding mission. It reveals her inner life as a transplanted American who struggles with the ambiguities of her role as “the trailing spouse.” A professional woman, with no official job title, Susan finds herself adrift without a career to define her value and contributions at the Embassy. She also misses connecting regularly with friends and family, and takes solace in her daily walks with her dog, which sometimes become a cultural adventure of their own.
The book also provides a rare look at contemporary Jewish life in Spain. Through her search for a synagogue to join and her discoveries about the millennial-old history of Spain’s Sefarad Jews and their customs, Susan accesses new layers of meaning around community and tradition.
Ultimately, through persistence and determination, Susan succeeds in breaking past the limits inherent in her role as diplomatic spouse to create new opportunities, both for herself and for the Embassy, organizing large-scale women’s leadership programs and other initiatives that help cement the diplomatic relationship between the United States and Spain. In an affirmative lesson for women everywhere, she demonstrates how, whatever your reality is, you can play second fiddle without being second fiddle.
Insights the book offers include:
• How to forge a fulfilling role and identity anywhere, at any time in life, even with no official status, mission or concrete expectations—just a drive to make a difference.
• The complicated history of Spain’s Jewish community, its customs and place in society today.
• What makes Spanish cuisine worthy of more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than any other country—and what are some of its best-kept culinary secrets.
• What are Spain’s hidden travel gems and must-see destinations.
• How Spain is busting stereotypes as a poster child of cultural diversity and tolerance.
Praise for Lost and Found In Spain: Tales of An Ambassador’s Wife
“Susan’s book is so much more than a memoir of the Solomonts’ years in Spain – it is about self-discovery, adventure, reinvention … all through the eyes of an amazing, tireless woman. She shows us with her memories of traveling around my homeland the importance of cultural and culinary diplomacy – that one of the best ways to understand and connect with a country and people is through their food.”
—Chef José Andrés (Named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in both 2012 and 2018)
“In Lost and Found in Spain, Susan Solomont makes the patriotic expatriate life her own and reminds us that an Ambassadorship is a family calling. One-part Madam Secretary, one part Eat, Pray, Love – Lost and Found in Spain is a candid, personal and often humorous account of full immersion in a magical, historic culture, and a crash course in public diplomacy, told from the perspective of a woman whose journey is marked by grace and goodwill.”
—Former Secretary of State John Kerry
About Susan Lewis Solomont
Before her husband’s appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Spain and Andorra under President Barack Obama, Susan Lewis Solomont served as a philanthropic advisor at TPI (The Philanthropic Initiative) in Boston. In 2013, after launching numerous initiatives for women in business while in Spain, Susan was named International Woman of the Year by FEDEPE, the leading organization for Spanish women executives and directors. Earlier in her career, Susan worked as director of corporate development for WGBH-TV. A member of the Berklee College of Music board of trustees, she holds a bachelor of science degree from Cornell University and a master’s degree in education from Tufts University.
Title: Lost and Found In Spain: Tales of An Ambassador’s Wife
Author: Susan Solomont
Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: Disruption Books; (March 26, 2019)